Skyline of Richmond, Virginia




May 24, 2012


Rachel MacKnight

Matt Jorgenson



Senate Republicans Continue Filibuster of Bill to Prevent Doubling of Student Loan Rates for 103,000 Maryland Students

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today expressed her strong disappointment that Senate Republicans continued their filibuster of the Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act of 2012. Senator Mikulski cosponsored the legislation to prevent federal student loan interest rates from doubling for more than 103,000 Maryland students on July 1st.

“I believe in America’s opportunity ladder, and higher education is an important rung on that ladder,” Senator Mikulski said. “It’s outrageous that Senate Republicans continue to stand in the way of much needed relief for middle-class families being squeezed by rising tuition costs.”

Republicans have repeated their demand that tax cuts for billionaires do not need to be paid for, while insisting that this bill to prevent a $1,000 a year rate hike for students be paid for by stripping away access to health care.

“I’m appalled that while Senate Republicans protect tax breaks and loopholes for billionaires and corporations that ship jobs overseas, their take it or leave it approach today would have stripped millions of Americans of life-saving preventive healthcare,” Senator Mikulski said. “I’ll continue to fight so that every student has access to the American dream and ensure that when they graduate, their first mortgage isn’t their student debt.”

As the cost of a college education continues to rise, this increase will add $1,000 to the cost of these loans for millions of Americans and will further squeeze middle class families already fighting to afford college. Without this legislation, interest rates on federal student loans will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Republicans voted against the legislation in order to protect a tax loophole that allows the wealthy to avoid paying employment taxes on a significant portion of their income.


IBT Union Local 773 files Petition and ULP’s against Lehigh Valley employers


JUNE 2012, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

IBT Union Local 773 files Petition and ULP’s against Lehigh Valley employers


REGION, May 19th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 773, Hamilton Street in Allentown, recently filed several labor complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) region Four office in Philadelphia alleging several employers in the Lehigh Valley violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct). Also, the IBT filed a petition with the NLRB requesting the agency conduct an election to determine if employees of one of the employers want to be represented by Local 773.

The newspaper discovered the Unfair Labor Practices (ULP’s) and the Representation Petition while reviewing the information at the NLRB Region Four office. The Union News is the only member of the local media that reviews and publishes the information.

On May 11th, 2012 IBT Union Local 773 filed a ULP against the Holiday Inn Express, West Main Street in Stroudsburg. The Holiday Inn operates a hotel at the site.

The complaint was filed on behalf of the IBT by Attoreny Ryan Sweeney of Philadelphia. According to the ULP Gale Sweda is the contact person for the employer. Sweda is identified as the hotel’s General Manager on the complaint.

“On or about April 9th, 2012, the above named Employer, violated the NLRAct by discriminating in terms and conditions of employment and interfering with the information of a labor organization. Specifically, the Employerterminated employee, Chris Sierra, in retaliation for his protected behavior of organizing fellow employees,” states the complaint.

The newspaper also discovered Local 773 filed at least two ULP’s against Pratt Corrugated Logistics, 7533 Industrial Parkway in Macungie. Pratt Logistics is a paper products manufacturer.

Both complaints were filed against the employer on April 30th, 2012, several days before the Union filed a petition with the NLRB requesting the agency conduct an election to determine if the company employees want to represented by Local 773 for the purpose of collective bargaining.

On May 2nd, 2012 the union filed a petition requesting that 18 employees be involved in a NLRB conducted election including all full-time and regular part-time delivery and pick-up drivers including yard jockey position. The petition request that all superviors and guards be excluded from participating in the election.

The petition was filed on behalf of the Union by Darrin Fry, Local 773 Business Agent. Erin Cutler is identified as the company representative to be contacted on the petition.

“On or about April 20th, 2012 the above named Employer, through its agents, officers and representatives, violated the above Sections of the Act when it terminated the employment of Guillermo Mejia because of his Union support and/or activities,” states one of the ULP’s.

The second complaint alleges the company fired multible employees for their support of the Union.

“On or about April 27th, 2012 the above named Employer, violated the Act by terminating employees because of their Union support and/or activities including, but not necessarily limited to the following: Zsolt Harscut, Abdel Camilo, Luis Hernandez, Bill Lenula, Jay Lohman, Brian Fritzinger, Mike Dolan, Denis Cortez, Mike Messini, Tyler Donnelly, and William Lengle,” states the complaint.

The complaints were filed on behalf of Local 773 by Philadelphia Attorney Jeremy Meyer while the company representative to be contacted is Erin Cutler, Pratt’s Human Resources person

USPS announces plan to continue with consolidation


JUNE 2012, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

USPS announces plan to continue with consolidation


REGION, May 18th- The United States Postal Service (USPS) announced it would continue with their plan of consolidating 48 mail-processing centers throughout the nation including moving their operations from Scranton to the Lehigh Valley. The agency stated the move is intended as a cost-cutting plan. The consolidating of the mail-processing centers would save the agency nearly $1.2 billion a year, according to information provided by the USPS.

Because of the USPS announced intension of moving the Scranton processing center work to the Lehigh Valley facility, eliminating approximately 200 jobs, the region will gain around 100 jobs after some of the workers are transfered to the local center.

However, Kevin Gallagher, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 in Scranton, which represents around 300 of the workers that will be affected by the mail-processing center consolidation, stated he still hopes the jobs will remain in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The United States Congress has been considering a variety of measures designed to cut USPS costs, and the United States Senate in April passed Senate Bill 1789 which would have delayed any planned closing of post offices and merging of distribution centers. However, the House of Representatives have not take action on the legislation, causing the USPS to take the cost-cutting measure of consolidating the 48 mail-processing centers.

The USPS stated it would close about 250 processing centers after the plan is fully implemented in 2014. Approximately 5,000 workers would be immediately affected by the consolidation including the 300 in Scranton. Under the plan, an additional 92 mail-processing centers will be consolidated in February 2013, and 89 more in 2014.

The APWU Local 268 represent workers that sort mail at the USPS processing center in Bethlehem Township.

The major reason the USPS loses money is because of legislation that was passed in 2006 that forces the agency to fund pensions for workers that have not yet even been born. The pensions for the future workers must be funded 75 years in advance. The USPS estimated that the post office department would have made a profit in 2010 if not for the provision of the pension issue.

Bernie Ogozalek, President of Local 268 stated his union doesn’t support the closure of the Scranton processing center.